Some high school students are pursuing a fast track to college with AP placement exams and courses that allow them to earn college credits while preparing for graduation.

Alexandra Piampiano was considered an upperclassman when she entered college this fall.  She had earned 24 college credits  while in high school in Webster NY, in subjects ranging from psychology to world history.

Piampiano entered St Vincent College as a sophomore, and is one of 10 first year students to do so.  The students are part of the incoming class of 450 students, and earned between 23 and 47 credits through AP exams, or through college courses offered in high school.

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“It was very chaotic (in high school), but it definitely taught me how to manage my time,” said Piampiano, 18, who played soccer and lacrosse and workedtwo jobs. She said she’s studying biology at the college in Unity in hopes of becoming a pediatrician.

“I think it definitely helped to make (the transition) easier,” she said.

A growing number of high school students are earning advanced standing by pushing themselves with heavy course loads, because they enjoy the challenge of college-level work or to give themselves a leg up in college, even if that doesn’t translate to an early graduation.

“The number of students coming in with college credits … seems to be increasing every year,” said Michael Poll, vice president for enrollment management at Seton Hill University in Greensburg. Four of the university’s 330 incoming students entered with sophomore standing this year, he said.

“Traditionally, it was predominantly AP courses with a scattering of dual enrollment. Now it’s even,” Poll said.

Dual-enrollment programs typically allow a high school student to attend a college course on campus or take the class from a college professor at their high school. College in High School programs let students earn college credits for the same high school class they’re taking with the high school teacher and coursework approved by the university,

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